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Don't Break The Oath - 100%

BCRichBich, September 8th, 2006

What can be said about Mercyful Fate that has not already been said? They have released some of the best and most influential metal ever. Most thrash, black, death, prog/tech, and even power metal bands list them either as a vital influence or list bands that Mercyful Fate have been a vital influence on. With no surprise. They along with Anvil, Motorhead and Venom have helped create what would become thrash and extreme metal, as well as black metal with the latter of the aforementioned bands. They are every bit as essential to the evolution of metal as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Think of it this way. If you think Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth were important bands, they would not even exist the way they had if it was not for Mercyful fate.

Now to the album. Don't Break The Oath is their second full length album. They were cult gods in Europe and underground icons in the US since the very beginning of the 80's. This is the album that gained them real worldwide exposure (as well as controversy and notoriety), even bringing them to the Billboard 200. A real gem and classic in every sense of the words, Don't Break The Oath is a benchmark that belongs in every metalheads vast album collection. This album features the complex bluesy bass work of Timi Hansen, as well as the technical and complex drumming patterns of Kim Ruzz. This is the album where they truly shine with their tight as a fist rhythm section, also bringing in an almost 70's hard rock style to this crushing metal release. Then there is the jaw dropping guitar duo of Hank Shermann and Michael Denner, a duo that happens to be one of the best in all of metal. Hank is more fast and technical while Michael is more passionate and emotional. I could swear that Michael can actually make his guitar talk. They have two very different styles yet they have a wonderful chemistry that has to be heard to truly believe. Then last, but certainly not least is King Diamond on vocals. Some hate him, most love him and there is really no in between. I am more than proud to say that I am in the latter category. His voice simply has to be heard to be believed. He can go from a deep death-thrashy kind of growl to an ear piercing, glass shattering, almost dog whistle falsetto in a mere instant without having to transition. The only vocalists I can think of who can reach all these octaves so fluidly are Rob Halford, Tim Aymar and Eric Adams, yet none of them can go to the extremes that Mr. Diamond is able to.

The music itself is a mix of thrash, heavy, prog and even shred metal. The lyrics are mostly based on Satanism or the occult. Another thing that must be mentioned is the production. It was way ahead of it's time, especially for 1984, and I cannot think of any album released until now that had such a wonderful mix. The instruments are layered so wonderfully yet it is so crisp, you will swear it is jumping out of you speakers.

Don't Break The Oath is such an amazing and flawless album. It's incredible how dark the atmosphere of Mercyful Fate albums are without having to rely on raw production or sounding guttural like so many of their contemporaries (and followers). If you don't have this album yet and are a fan of this band, get it now. Sell your blood or even your kids if you have to. It is an absolute essential that's more than worth every penny. 10 out of 10. Enjoy .